General Jacques Gervaise, baron Subervie (1776-1856)

General Jacques Gervaise, baron Subervie (1776-1856) was a French general who commanded a division at Waterloo and went on to have a successful political career after the Napoleonic Wars.

Subervie was elected a lieutenant in the Revolutionary army in 1792 in the Gers region. He served on the Pyrenees front, fighting against the Spanish during the War of the First Coalition.

In September 1797 he became ADC to General Lannes. He accompanied Lannes on the fleet heading to Egypt, but poor health meant that he left the fleet at Malta, where he served as Vaubois's ADC. He was captured when Malta fell to the British.

Subervie joined Lannes when his friend became Ambassador to Portugal. He also served under him during the War of the Third Coalition (1805) and Fourth Coalition (1806-1807).

In December 1805 he was given command of the 10th Chasseurs à Cheval, and led his regiment during the War of the Fourth Coalition. He fought at Jena and at Friedland.

In 1808 Subervie was sent to Spain, where he served under Lasalle. He suffered a minor defeat at Miajades (21 March 1809), during the Spanish retreat from the Tagus. He then fought at the battle of Medellin (29 March 1809), a French victory. He commanded the 10th Cavalry Brigade at the Battle of Talavera (27-28 July 1809), and was created a baron on 28 November 1809.

In August 1811 he was promoted to général de brigade and joined Suchet's staff in north-eastern Spain.

In 1812 he was recalled from Spain and commanded the 2nd Light Cavalry Division of II Cavalry Corps in the Russian campaign. He suffered a splinter wound in the thigh at Borodino and didn't return to service until August 1813.

By this point Napoleon was running out of cavalry horses and his cavalry units were increasingly packed with officers. Subervie served in the 9th Light Cavalry Division (General Piré), and fought at Brienne, Champaubert and Montereau. He took part in the failed defence of Paris in 1814 and was promoted to général de division just before Napoleon's first abdication. He suffered another serious wound during the fighting outside Paris.

Subervie's new rank was removed by the Bourbons, but he was then made a lieutenant general in July 1814. He returned to Napoleon's side during the Hundred Days. He commanded the 5th Cavalry Division of I Cavalry Corps during the Waterloo campaign. At the battle of Waterloo his division was posted on the French right, to guard against the threat from the advancing Prussians.

He retired from the army in 1825 and began a political career. He was an important figure during the 1830 revolution, and served under King Louis-Philippe. He served as War Minister in the provisional government of 1848, and then retired. His final role was as a military advisor to Napoleon III.  

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (pending), General Jacques Gervaise, baron Subervie (1776-1856) ,

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